Friday, December 15, 2017

Snow Day

So yesterday (Wednesday) there was a big portion of the country that got snow.  Michigan was part of that portion.  I was out at the NCRS in the afternoon, and it was really coming down.  We ended up with close to 8 inches.
 The snow stopped at night, but then the cold set in.  Here was my temperature this morning on my way in according to my Flexometer.  I didn't think it would get that cold.  Fortunately I brought in my brass monkey last night.
 But as the sun came up, it was a pretty day.
As long as you could stay inside.  Which I did.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yield Follow-up: California Melons

So here is another follow-up to a blog about crop comparisons.  This was from a May 8 post (Desert Fruit. No Extra Salt Needed) from SE California, just West of Yuma, AZ.  This was about a visit with SAM Carlos to a field of cantaloupes where a fertilizer comparison was being conducted.  This visit was a couple weeks before harvest.  To re-cap, Carlos and Retail Partner Jeramie with RNM Agriturf set up a fertilizer comparison in a field of melons.  This field was pretty rough with a pH >8 and high soil test sodium (>1000 ppm and 20% base saturation).  Anyway, the grower wouldn't tell them what his normal program was.  He just gave them a soil test and a target cost per acre.  With help from agronomist JW, they came up with a fertilizer program that was applied through drip irrigation.  
I showed these pictures in the original blog post from either side of that road on the left.  The pictures show the yields and the fertilizer programs.  The AgroLiquid program was more nutritionally balanced and it payed off with a yield that was almost 1.25 TONS/A higher than the growers program (a box of melons is 30 lb.).  So as I've said many times before, AgroLiquid is a superior nutrition program for any situation, but especially so in adverse conditions like high pH and sodium.  
This is because of carbon encapsulation of phosphorus, which protects from tie-up losses and enables extended release and feeding.  There is also a more direct application of nutrient needs like micronutrients and calcium.  Anyway, performance was proven again.  Hopefully I will be able to obtain more results from earlier field comparisons shown here in the Land of Liquid.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Great Lakes Expo

So this week is the wildly popular Great Lakes Fruit and Vegetable Expo in Grand Rapids.  There are people from all over the world who attend this as speakers, exhibitors and growers.  AgroLiquid has exhibited here for years.  I took the opportunity to attend the opening day on Tuesday.
Here is the AgroLiquid booth.  With an expansion of retail partners in the fruit and vegetable markets, there is much information to share with growers.
Last year over 4200 people attended the three day event, and looks like at least that again in 2017.  There are over 450 exhibitors from seed, greenhouses, chemicals, fertilizers, storage, marketing, farm marketing and of course, equipment.  The NCRS has a supply of fruit and vegetable equipment for use in our plots.  But like most growers, you like to see what's new and improved.
There are some give-away items at the different booths.  But probably nothing as valuable as this Yeti cooler that will given away to a lucky entrant.  Look at this familiar grower with the AgroLiquid cap.  Hope he wins.  (I say that to everyone though.  And I'll be right once.)
This conference also has over 70 educational sessions, on everything from asparagus to zucchini.  The apple presentations have the biggest audience, it being such a big crop and all.  I attended this session since the NCRS has an apple orchard.  They talked about managing pesticide residues (not really a problem here, but different import countries have different residue standards), soil biology (always a topic these days), insects (the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, imported from Asia is a growing problem), disease management around pollination time (bees), apple storage and other topics.  I thought it was a learning experience.  Although nothing on fertility on Tuesday.  
They had displays of different apple varieties.  And this is just one of two long tables!  Who knew there were so many?
Remember Jacob the AgroLiquid horticulturist at the NCRS who left to return to MSU for his PhD?  I didn't see him on the day I was there, but I did see a poster of his research project.  He compared application drift from an airblast sprayer (which blows out a high powered volume of mist to cover the trees) and a solid set canopy delivery system (which has delivery nozzles down in the canopy for delivery at a lower pressure from an overhead hose).  These are systems for application of pest control chemicals and crop nutrition.  Well he found that there is considerably less drift from the solid set canopy system compared to air blast.  Who knew? 
So that was a nice day talking to growers, seeing the other vendor displays, filling my head with knowledge and my stomach with tasty items from the farm market.  (If you ever see a jar of Blueberry Salsa, buy it and try it!  You can thank me later.)   
(No really, it's good!)

Sunday, December 3, 2017

'Tis the Season

So it's December now, and it's never too early for a Christmas parade.  Such was the case last Friday in St. Johns, MI, and of course AgroLiquid was an eager participant.  It featured lots of lights, so the NCRS crew outfitted our Hagie plot sprayer with lights galore.  Hagie pilot Tim stands guard.
 Here are the AgroLiquid paraders.  Notice the Flavonol bubble people and Farm Guy.  All lit up and ready to go!
We also had a bright antique golf cart leading the way downtown to the throngs of parade fans.
 The Hagie made a nice show going down Clinton Street in the midst of town.  Although most people apparently thought it was a tractor.  But I liked their enthusiasm.
Gerrit and Molly and kids are having a great time spreading the Christmas cheer.  Obviously Beth is too.
 There was a long string of all sorts of lighted floats and bands making the parade a civic success.
 And like all good parades, the last float has Santa waving to all the good kids in town.
I waved back.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Yield Follow-Up: Clinton County MI Topdress Wheat

So as part of my travels  through the summer, I often show some sort of field fertilizer comparison.  I try to get caught up on how those turned out after harvest.  I thought I would start close to home, where on May 3 in the post: Wheat Streaks I showed a wheat field with some topdress strips of AgroLiquid vs urea.  Specifically it was 15 gal/A of PRIMAGRO N + 14.5 gal/A of High NRG-N + 1 qt/A of Micro 500 + 1 qt/A of Manganese applied on April 14 compared to 250 lb/A of urea applied on April 24 (in the original post I put 200 lb of urea, but as I found out later, it was 250 lb).  The AgroLiquid strips were nice and green while the urea wheat was yellow.  This pic was in the May 3 blog post.  You can see the other strip in the upper right corner.  Two 80 ft passes of AgroLiquid were made on the North side and one on the South side.
 A month later they looked similar in color as the urea wheat had greened up.  Unfortunately there was a lot of grass here.  I believe it was smooth brome grass.  It got sprayed with Huskie, but that wouldn't control grass.
 At harvest, a single 15 ft pass was made with our combine was made in adjacent sections of the topdress treatments, down to the end of the trees (yellow line) which was 915 feet.  The combine drove in the middle of the strips to avoid any stray urea influence.  Yields were determined with our scaled grain cart, and are on the picture below.  (This was a drone image taken on May 3.)                                     
The yields were low for the area, undoubtedly due to the grass infestation.  But there was an overall 5 bu/A advantage for the AgroLiquid.  There was a bigger difference in the North comparison. The higher yield was from AgroLiquid, but it was just a slightly higher overall return (check local listings).  But wouldn't you rather spray topdress with your own sprayer instead of having to pay for a spreader? 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cover Crops....Decisions, Decisions

Cover crops have been around for a number of years, but are still being explored as options for soil improvement.  Reported benefits include nutrient recovery, reduction of compaction and enhanced soil health by providing an environment for beneficial microbes.  The NCRS has had cover crops for years following wheat harvest.  Just don't have enough time after soybeans and corn.  Admittedly we haven't done a great deal of work on cover crop mixture testing.  Usually a blend of oats and tillage radish is planted.  Here is a strip from a fertilizer test where plant establishment was poor.  Can you guess why? 
Well it seems that a soil amendment in the form of 300 lb/A of muriate of potash was spread and lightly incorporated (vertical tillage) prior to planting.  This picture was taken in late September a little over a month after planting.  On either side is 100 lb/A of potash in this field with very low soil test potassium.  We will follow it next year with corn plots.  Interesting result though.

Over on Farm 7 we are having a comparison of some different tillage and cover crop combinations.  Compaction is a problem at the NCRS when you work with plots that have lots of traffic in the form of planting, spraying, foliar apps, combine and grain cart/weigh wagon.  So often the ground will be ripped and then planted to cover crop when wheat is in the rotation.  There are four replicated treatments, again following wheat.  (You may see some frosted corn from where the weigh wagon was cleaned out after corn harvest plus spread seed from old partial bags of corn.  This area is normally not plot ground.)  These are long strips going up and over that hill in the background.

This strip was ripped only.  (A ripper is a tillage tool with shanks that go deep into the soil to break up compaction zones. You can see the strips where these shanks ran.  The soil needs to be rather dry in order to shatter the compaction zone.) No cover crop, that's volunteer wheat.  These pictures were taken on November 8 and were planted in early September.
This strip was ripped and then planted to our standard oats and tillage radish.  Looks like good establishment.
This strip had no tillage and no cover crop, other than this volunteer wheat.
This strip had no tillage, but had annual ryegrass and tillage radish.  Unfortunately the ryegrass didn't get off to a very good start.  We are testing this as I have been told by others that the ryegrass will root down deep enough to break up compaction, especially in combination with the radish.  So we will monitor these strips through corn harvest next year.  And there are four replications of each of these.
This is a different cover crop: one of the winter wheat experiments on Farm 3, as it was on November 8.
I've been meaning to get this cover crop info loaded into a blog for awhile now.  Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving from the NCRS

So now with even more evidence that the year is speeding by, here it is Thanksgiving already.  As a place with the task of researching ways of growing more and better food, yesterday the NCRS staff took time to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast of our own.  It sounds corny (which,ironically, is one food that we did not have), but we have all been working together for quite a while, some for many years, and it was nice to sit together and enjoy a festive meal.  And we have plenty for which we are Thankful.  (You didn't think I would end a sentence with a preposition did you?)

I'd say it was as good as Grandma's with taters and gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, cole slaw from our own cabbage, sweet potato casserole, chip dip, rolls, cookies, pie and of course TURKEY.  And all, well mostly all, was homemade.  So that was a good practice for tomorrow.  It was just like family except no food fight.  We all wish for you to have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are.